Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kale-Tofu Salad

Vegan and vegetarian meals have become a main stay for me as I continue my anti-candida diet (ACD). I don't entirely avoid meat as I seem to feel better when I eat chicken and fish. I shop for poultry which is free of hormones and antibiotics because I definitely don't need to be eating foods with added antibiotics as these drugs were probably the source of my candida overgrowth.

Recently, I purchased a whole chicken from a local grower who raises free-range poultry. It was pretty expensive but I wanted to support a local farmer. About two weeks ago, I decided to roast the bird in the oven and serve a special meal for my husband, son and his friends who had come over to do some major car work for us for free.

The meal was about done when I removed the chicken from the oven to give it one last check. I had been roasting the chicken in a large glass Pyrex pan. To my amazement, the pan exploded when I removed it from the oven and placed it on top of the stove. Shards of glass flew everywhere including one into the side of my foot. At first, I thought my foot was burned until I looked down and saw a pool of blood on the floor. This deep laceration probably needed stitches but I didn't want to go to the emergency room on a weekend night when others with all kind of cold and flu germs were waiting to be seen. I decided to bandage it up, keep it elevated and check on getting a tetanus shot the next day when I already had a doctor's appointment.

The next day I was given a tetanus shot, although I'm not sure why as the injury did not involve metal or dirt. I got no explanation other than I needed one. I'd had many tetanus shots before so I wasn't concerned about it or about the fact that they gave me no information on possible side effects. Within hours, I started developing a hot, red rash all over my legs, along with terrible headache and aches all over my body. I would have assumed it was the flu if it hadn't been for the rash. I developed a similar rash and hives another time when I had a bad reaction to taking a medication.

The seemingly innocuous tetanus shot left me sick for about five days. That's when I decided to never cook anything in a glass Pyrex pan again. I also checked on the internet and found that exploding Pyrex pans were quite common. I was fortunate that the shard of glass had not hit me in a more vital area.

After this experience, it was "obvious" that eating meat was hazardous to one's health, and I concluded that vegan and vegetarian meals were safer to prepare. But not entirely so as I found out when I tried to bake some extra firm tofu slices in the oven. I sprayed the slices with pan spray. After they had been baking for awhile, the entire house began to fill up with smoke from the oven. Some of the smoke was from the pan spray and some from the residue left by the chicken in the exploding Pyrex pan. All the windows had to be opened on a fairly cold day to get rid of the smoke which made my eyes and chest burn. I guess this was a message it was time to clean the oven. Another clean-up job thanks to Pyrex.

Cooking on top of the stove now seemed like the safest bet. I decided to whip up some Kale-Tofu Salad. The inspiration for this dish came from my recent trip to northern Idaho and Washington and British Columbia. A co-op that I stopped in had a deli counter with a delicious-looking kale-cabbage-tofu salad. Unfortunately, I had to pass on it because it had mayo and cashews on it. Here's my own recipe:

Kale-Tofu Salad
One bunch of kale, washed, trimmed and chopped
1/2 small red or green cabbage, chopped
1 block of extra-firm tofu, cut into cubes
2 T. tahini
1-2 T. water
1 tsp. Bragg's amino acids
4 T. sunflower seeds

Make a dressing by combining the tahini and Bragg's. Gradually, add water to thin the mixture out a bit. You want it to be creamy but pourable. Place the kale and cabbage in a large bowl.

Use half the tahini dressing mixture to toss with the tofu cubes in a separate bowl. Heat a pan and stir fry the tofu until warm. Add the tofu to the bowl with kale and cabbage, and toss with the remaining tahini dressing to coat all the ingredients. Add the finishing touch by mixing in the sunflower seeds. Now, you're ready to eat minus any exploding pans or smoky ovens.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Seaweed noodles and veggie saute

Staying on an anti-candida diet (ACD) while traveling is not easy. There are too many tempting foods out there when you are away from home. It's especially difficult when you are on a bicycle tour in British Columbia where you've left not only home but your car far away.

Biking 60-70 miles a day up and over numerous hills (some with seven to eight percent grades) creates an enormous drain on your glycogen reserves. I wanted to feast on carbohydrates of all kinds but yet was determined to stay on a low-glycemic diet. This was especially difficult when watching my husband (who pursues a diet at the extreme opposite of ACD) eat every carb in sight, including brownies, cookies, ice cream. You name it. He ate it.

I did learn a lot about how to get ACD foods even while traveling and eating out frequently. My first lesson was that a salad in a restaurant is light-years away from a salad made at home. Apparently, few people order salads in restaurants and if they do, they don't want a man-sized salad. The result is you are lucky to get one cup of greens and a sprinkling of a few token veggies on top when ordering a salad. This was true not only in the U.S.-portion of our trip but also in British Columbia.

These puny "salads" also fetched a substantial price. Most of the salads I ordered were $8-$12 for next to nothing in the way of ingredients (usually chicken, greens, a few veggies). One time we even ate in a vegan/vegetarian restaurant and my salad was still itsy-bitsy. I remember when you actually could make a meal out of a salad. My husband on the other hand got enough to feed two or three people in the form of burgers, fries, potato salad, cole slaw, Philly cheesesteak, desserts, rolls (not all at the same meal but a lot) for less than what I paid.

After going away from a few restaurants still famished, I finally got sauvy on how to order. I would ask to trade all the sides that came with a piece of chicken or salmon for a giant bucket of salad, served with olive oil and lemon. It worked. I actually got pretty filled up. Sometimes, I was fortunate enough to find an eatery with an all-you-can-eat salad bar that actually had veggies not just mayonaise-laden foods, masquerading as salads.

I shopped in markets along the way to fill in the gaps in my diet not filled by the restaurant offerings which are sadly mostly high in refined carbs and not-so-lean protein. At markets, I would stock up on fresh veggies, low-glycemic fruit (berries), raw sunflower and pumpkin seeds, hummus, garbanzo or pinto beans, and tofu to eat for snacks. I also found frozen brown rice that I could thaw out for breakfast and unsweetened soy milk. I started the trip with a supply of low-carb crackers I made, quinoa, garbanzo bean flour, raw tortillas, liquid stevia, chia seed (I added it to soy milk with liquid stevia to make a treat) and olive oil to supplement my meals here and there.

Most motels we stayed in had a microwave and mini-fridge so that I could cook my breakfast in the room. Two places where we spent the night had a kitchenette. I discovered it is possible to make quinoa and garbanzo-bean flatbread in a microwave. It wasn't half-bad.

I actually stayed pretty well nourished but did find myself hungering for certain foods by the time I returned home. My stomach behaved itself quite well on the trip despite all the fresh veggies I consumed.

Another discovery I made was that for me, it's actually easier to behave myself on a trip than at home. That discovery inspired me to follow my trip diet as much as possible at home which means I would skip sneaking carob-coconut balls and extra helpings of garbanzo bean flatbread. I would focus on eating more raw veggies and vegetarian meals. With that in mind, I cooked up some Seaweed Noodle and Veggie Saute.

1 cup seaweed noodles (come pre-packaged and ready to heat)
1 tsp. olive oil
1 medium red onion, cut in half-moon slices or wedges
1 medium carrot, cut in matchsticks
1 medium zucchini, cut in matchsticks
1/2 small green cabbage, thinly sliced
1 T. Bragg's Amino Acids (like soy sauce but not fermented)
1 T. toasted sesame oil

Use a large skillet to heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute. Add the carrots and zucchini and saute. Add the cabbage and Bragg's and saute until all the veggies are softened. Add the rinsed seaweed noodles and cook to heat. Remove from the heat and toss in the sesame oil. Serve warm with chopsticks for a bit of Asian flare. Makes 2-3 servings.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Coconut-Seed Cookies, Gluten-Free

I celebrated my birthday while pedaling 400+miles through Idaho-British Columbia-Washington on the International Selkirk Loop. I was desperately seeking a birthday treat that would fit my anti-candida diet (ACD) requirements (low-carb, no sugar). Yeah, it was definitely a bit delusional of me to even think I would find something but it was kind of like someone searching for water in the Sahara Desert. You just keep hoping that the perfect low-carb, no sugar, chocolate-mint brownie will appear out of nowhere. Finally, reality set in and I had to settle for a ripe avocado for my birthday treat. I found it at a convenience store, no less. I was actually pretty grateful since ripe avocadoes are hard to come by. But it was definitely no brownie. I vowed to celebrate with something "decadent" or at least as decadent as eating ACD allows me to be when I returned home. Here's what I came up with:
Coconut-Seed Cookies, Gluten-Free
1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/8 cup each ground flax seeds and Chia flour (or skip the mixture and use 1/4 cup flax)
1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
2 T. carob powder (or baking cocoa which I should avoid.)
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 T. olive oil
3 T. water
several drop of liquid stevia (alcohol-free)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with pan spray. Process the flax, chia and sunflower seeds to a fine meal in a food processor. Add the flour, carob powder and soda, and process again to combine. Add the olive oil, water and stevia, and process to form a moist dough.
Place the dough directly on the cookie sheet. Use moist hands to flatten it out to a 7 X 10-inch rectangle. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cut the large rectangle into smaller rectangles for your cookies. Return the cookies to the oven and bake another 5 minutes until they are crisp and delicious. Cool and enjoy. Store the extras in the fridge. They keep well in the freezer.